Julie Dodd – Ultimate Software's Blog http://blog.ultimatesoftware.com Thoughts on Putting People First in the Workplace Thu, 27 Jul 2017 13:58:08 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.8 Customer Onboarding: Why It Matters & How Companies Can Excel http://blog.ultimatesoftware.com/customer-onboarding/ http://blog.ultimatesoftware.com/customer-onboarding/#respond Wed, 21 Jun 2017 10:00:43 +0000 http://blog.ultimatesoftware.com/?p=1023 Customer onboarding. It’s an integral part of customer support that’s, unfortunately, often overlooked. Once the sale is finalized and customers are “in”—particularly with recurring-revenue platforms like SaaS (software as a service)—there’s a tendency to let automated services take over and focus reactively instead of proactively. But, in my experience, that’s a mistake. The early stage […]

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Customer onboarding.

It’s an integral part of customer support that’s, unfortunately, often overlooked. Once the sale is finalized and customers are “in”—particularly with recurring-revenue platforms like SaaS (software as a service)—there’s a tendency to let automated services take over and focus reactively instead of proactively.

But, in my experience, that’s a mistake. The early stage of a customer’s journey is extremely important—building rapport, setting expectations, and (hopefully) paving the way for future satisfaction. This is when customers form lasting impressions and decide whether the product or service they purchased will actually prove valuable. Attracting customers is not enough; to be successful, businesses need to retain them, and that process starts with onboarding.

customer onboardingOnboarding is not necessarily teaching the customer how to use a product, but rather, how to solve problems and alleviate concerns by using the product. It’s important businesses thoroughly consider their customers: their specific goals, what they need to achieve them, and how the companies’ resources can help them get there.

It’s important to note that customer onboarding is an ongoing, iterative process. Companies that design the process around these predetermined goals while focusing on the following areas stand to see long-term customer satisfaction and retention.

Inauguration
It’s best to address each customers’ unique business needs, establish measurements for success, and develop training plans from the very beginning. At Ultimate Software, we use proven methodology to ensure our customers are up and running quickly. Individualized, expert guidance starts with end-user training and extends to self-service resources, configuration tips, and best practices for using our software, UltiPro®.

Customer Support
Customer service is often a key differentiator for companies. In HR tech, for example, a recent study revealed an astonishing 77% of HR buyers regretted their vendor choice—and the primary reason wasn’t product functionality, usability, or price. It was service. Moreover, 71% of respondents wished they had done more research on vendors’ customer service, and three out of four reported having issues with their current vendors’ service. Customers are often drawn to product functionality, but if they’re unhappy with service, they’ll most likely be dissatisfied overall. Businesses should always look for opportunities to improve their service offerings. At Ultimate, when we considered the limitations of traditional tiered support, for example, we adopted a collaborative support model that decreased customer resolution time by 60%.

Continual Collaboration
Remember, effective onboarding is ongoing and should continue throughout the customer lifecycle—reinforcing the understanding of existing solutions, introducing new ones, building confidence, and bolstering value. Ongoing collaboration is also important, and this is a two-way street. Companies primarily exist to serve customers, who are an invaluable resource for identifying strengths and opportunities for improvement. At Ultimate, our customers are directly involved in our user experience and design testing, and more than 1,500 customer ideas have been incorporated into UltiPro to date.

The most successful customer onboarding campaigns rapidly deliver value, empower users, and evolve alongside the product. They build relationships, inspire creativity, and forge an emotional connection between a company’s customers and its products—and that’s worth investing in.

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Using Payroll Software to Alleviate Tax-Time Woes http://blog.ultimatesoftware.com/payroll-software-simplify-taxes/ http://blog.ultimatesoftware.com/payroll-software-simplify-taxes/#comments Fri, 28 Apr 2017 01:05:25 +0000 http://blog.ultimatesoftware.com/?p=990 Just like how February is for sweethearts and November is for feasting, for many Americans, April is synonymous with one thing: filing taxes. Depending on your personal and financial situation, the process can be relatively smooth or plagued with technicalities, and the same is true for businesses. If you’re a small company with a few […]

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Just like how February is for sweethearts and November is for feasting, for many Americans, April is synonymous with one thing: filing taxes. Depending on your personal and financial situation, the process can be relatively smooth or plagued with technicalities, and the same is true for businesses.

payroll softwareIf you’re a small company with a few local employees, it’s possible that your tax services process can be reasonably handled by an in-house employee. But for most businesses, managing employee taxes is an extremely complex endeavor, as you’ll need to manually navigate through thousands of tax jurisdictions—there are 7,000 in Pennsylvania alone—to assign the correct tax code for each employee. And the price of non-compliance is steep; in 2014, the IRS issued 6.8 million penalties related to employment taxes alone, costing US businesses $4.5 billion. For these reasons, it often makes more sense to use payroll software and services that can meet your organization’s unique needs while conserving internal resources and ensuring IRS compliance.

How Payroll Software Can Help

Some payroll solutions offer a comprehensive tax management feature to help businesses handle all tax and compliance computations, including withholding requirements, multi-state taxing rules and reciprocity, and more. All U.S. federal, state, and local tax regulations can be updated automatically, as well as Canadian federal and provincial/territorial regulations. And to simplify things even further, these solutions often leverage the latest geographic information systems to automatically determine the correct tax codes for employees.

As a result, tax information is processed quickly and accurately, simplifying the administrative process and mitigating compliance risk. Technology providers can even provide services to print, seal, and send you your year-end tax forms, ready for immediate distribution. For Ultimate Software, tax services are just another way we’ve designed our solution to put people first.

Service: Putting People—and Their Taxes—First

In addition to UltiPro’s strong payroll solution, service has always been a differentiating factor. In an industry where 7 out of 10 HR decision makers report regretting their HCM provider choice, Ultimate stands proud with a 95% customer satisfaction rate. We’re in the people business, and we treat our customers as partners for life. This means that you’ll work closely with one of our dedicated representatives—throughout the entire process—to define and implement the strategies that make sense for your company.

To learn more about how Ultimate’s HR, payroll, and talent management software can fulfill your human capital management needs, join us for a live UltiPro Web Demo on April 27, at 2:00 p.m. Eastern time.

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The High Cost of Low Service http://blog.ultimatesoftware.com/high-cost-low-service/ http://blog.ultimatesoftware.com/high-cost-low-service/#respond Wed, 15 Mar 2017 10:00:49 +0000 http://blog.ultimatesoftware.com/?p=888 A couple weeks ago, I discussed the importance of customer service and shared Kelton’s 2016 findings that nearly 7 out of 10 HR decision makers reported they’ve regretted their HCM provider choice, predominantly due to poor service. The study concluded that the majority of respondents agreed that customer service is as important as or more […]

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A couple weeks ago, I discussed the importance of customer service and shared Kelton’s 2016 findings that nearly 7 out of 10 HR decision makers reported they’ve regretted their HCM provider choice, predominantly due to poor service. The study concluded that the majority of respondents agreed that customer service is as important as or more important than product functionality, but only 35% believe their current provider is doing well with partnership. It’s clear that organizations aren’t meeting their consumers’ expectations, but how much is customer dissatisfaction really costing U.S. businesses?

It turns out, about $62 billion per year in lost sales.

Lost sales from existing customers.

That’s $20 billion per year more than in 2013—about a 51% increase in just three years. The 2016 NewVoiceMedia study found that nearly half of respondents reported switching to competitors explicitly due to service concerns, and most of those had switched more than once.

Changing workforce demographics may be partly responsible for the significant uptick in direct revenue loss. Millennials ranked themselves three times more likely to switch providers based on service issues than baby boomers did, so it seems younger customers are simply less willing to put up with poor service. But what exactly constitutes poor service? According to the study, the most common reasons for switching were: feeling unappreciated, unhelpful/rude staff, being passed around to multiple people, not being able to speak to a live person, not being able to get answers, and being put on hold for too long.

customer service whitepaperIt’s worth noting that the above figure does not include additional revenue loss stemming from negative word-of-mouth and price sensitivity. Moreover, 60% of people share their negative experiences with other consumers, often on social media and online review sites with a large potential reach. Also consider that approximately two-thirds of consumers are willing to pay substantially more for products if they believe the company provides excellent customer service.

Great service significantly impacts the bottom line, nurturing loyal customers who are easy to retain and inclined to naturally promote their experiences to peers. At Ultimate Software, we enjoy these benefits as a direct result of our commitment to putting people first. As part of that commitment, 84% of our employees are focused on improving the customer experience, and we prioritize service initiatives—such as our unique collaborative support model, which significantly decreased inquiry resolution time for customers.

In an industry where most respondents have had service issues with their current providers, we stand proud with a 95% customer satisfaction rate. We place a high value on our customers, and it shows. Our customers value us in return.

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Service: It’s More Important Than You Think http://blog.ultimatesoftware.com/service-importance/ http://blog.ultimatesoftware.com/service-importance/#comments Thu, 26 Jan 2017 09:28:21 +0000 http://blog.ultimatesoftware.com/?p=855 As Ultimate Software’s Chief Services Officer, my views on the importance of service might seem slightly biased. In an industry as innovative and fast-paced as HCM technology, there’s a tendency to focus on the newest pioneering solutions—and these powerful advances are certainly game-changing. But Ultimate has always been committed to providing world-class service to our […]

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As Ultimate Software’s Chief Services Officer, my views on the importance of service might seem slightly biased. In an industry as innovative and fast-paced as HCM technology, there’s a tendency to focus on the newest pioneering solutions—and these powerful advances are certainly game-changing. But Ultimate has always been committed to providing world-class service to our customers, and more than 80 percent of our employees are staffed in customer service and product development roles. We always knew this dedication to service was an incredible differentiator in the HCM sphere.

And many others agree.

A November 2016 survey by Kelton Global revealed that a staggering 7 out of 10 HR decision makers regretted their HCM provider choice. The #1 reason they cited? Poor customer service. Moreover, 3 out of 4 buyers reported having issues with their current providers’ service, and 71 percent said they wished they had spent more time researching their HCM providers’ service (compared with just 43 percent who wished they’d further researched solution functionality). In the end, 62 percent of HR solution buyers concluded that customer service is as important as or more important than product functionality.

That is a substantial amount of regret. It seems far too many HR leaders have underestimated the importance of service.

At Ultimate, we’ve never wavered on our commitment to customers. Our 95 percent customer satisfaction rate is a striking difference from the statistics above—and it all comes down to Ultimate’s focus on the second “s” in SaaS.

service dartWe offer 24-7 phone support and an innovative collaborative support service model that’s been proven to decrease customer resolution time by 60 percent. We also assign every customer a dedicated account manager, who walks them through every step. Self-service help is also available online for those who prefer to find answers on their own. Perhaps most notably, we provide each and every customer with free training—for life.

Not only do we provide personalized service and support, but we also listen closely to our customers and address their unique business needs. We implemented more than 30 new features in UltiPro this year, and that included more than 80 customer ideas.

I certainly don’t want to discount the importance of technology here, as unbelievable advances in the field (prescriptive analytics, for example) continue to assist HR professionals in ways previously unimaginable. But, as too many decision makers have unfortunately learned the hard way, it’s crucial to prioritize both service and technology when evaluating HCM providers.

In fact, it’s probably more important than you think.

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Collaborative Support: The Ultimate Difference in Service http://blog.ultimatesoftware.com/collaborative-support-ultimate-difference/ http://blog.ultimatesoftware.com/collaborative-support-ultimate-difference/#comments Fri, 06 Jan 2017 13:14:30 +0000 http://blog.ultimatesoftware.com/?p=817 In a recent post, titled “A ‘People First’ Approach to Customer Service,” we touched upon several factors that make Ultimate Software’s support different, noting Ultimate’s 97% customer retention rate and 95% customer satisfaction rate. Ultimate received widespread industry recognition for its service in 2016, including being named a Gold winner for “Best Customer Service Department […]

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In a recent post, titled “A ‘People First’ Approach to Customer Service,” we touched upon several factors that make Ultimate Software’s support different, noting Ultimate’s 97% customer retention rate and 95% customer satisfaction rate. Ultimate received widespread industry recognition for its service in 2016, including being named a Gold winner for “Best Customer Service Department of the Year” at Network Product Guide’s 2016 IT World Awards, recognition in the Best in Biz Awards 2016 as a Silver winner in the “Support Department of the Year” category, and winning a TSIA STAR Award for Innovation in the Transformation of Support Services at the SMB Level.

Today, we’d like to share a primary differentiator in delivering Ultimate’s “People First” customer service: our collaborative support model.

Ultimate’s culture of innovation goes beyond the design of our people-centric products. It extends into the delivery of our personalized service. Last year, we recognized an opportunity to enhance the support experience for our customers even further by adopting a more effective customer service model: the collaborative support model (sometimes called “tierless” support).

Traditional software support is delivered in a “tiered” structure, where customer calls are automatically handled by a “Tier 1” support representative trained to answer the most common support questions. More complex questions are forwarded to “Tier 2” support reps, sometimes “Tier 3”, and so on. The downside to this approach is that customers might be required to explain their issue to multiple support representatives, remain on hold while the issue is escalated, or be placed into a “Tier 2” support queue for call-back. This tiered support system, while a logical organizational structure, can require a high level of time and effort from customers.

collaborative support customer service

In contrast, when a customer submits a question in a collaborative support model, it immediately goes to a team of specialists and multiple subject-matter experts who can then “swarm” the issue. Their collaboration produces a prompt resolution with less customer effort required. In 2015, Ultimate adopted a collaborative support model designed to “swarm” each customer inquiry to ensure that subject-matter experts reviewed and resolved each question quickly. This approach improves the speed of resolution and provides the customer with one central point of contact. The results speak for themselves: after implementing the new model, Ultimate’s customer support inquiry resolution time decreased by 60 percent between May 2015 and June 2016.

In addition to dedicated account managers and cutting-edge collaborative support, Ultimate offers 24-7 service that includes a live chat, Rapid Response hotline, and online User Communities. All customers also have access to a virtual library with articles documenting resolutions to the most common inquiries. These articles are updated in real time by our subject-matter experts and are readily available for any users wishing to explore at their convenience.

Our underlying goal is to ensure our customers get the most out of UltiPro.  We recognize that comprehensive product functionality and cutting-edge technology are only a part of that equation.  Customers need exceptional service to experience more value from their HCM technology. Our customers can be confident that when they select UltiPro, they’re not simply choosing an HCM solution designed to improve work life for their people. They also stand to benefit from a lifelong partnership with Ultimate–a partnership built on trust, care, and a mutual investment in long-term success.

We are committed to this enduring promise: we’ll continue to provide innovative, industry-leading technology and service, and we’ll put people first while we do so.

That’s the Ultimate difference.

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A Thriving Community Built on Collaboration http://blog.ultimatesoftware.com/thriving-community-built-collaboration-customer-service-week/ http://blog.ultimatesoftware.com/thriving-community-built-collaboration-customer-service-week/#respond Wed, 05 Oct 2016 08:39:36 +0000 http://blog.ultimatesoftware.com/?p=711 In celebration of Customer Service Week, October 3–7, we share the following post highlighting the importance of collaboration—a cornerstone component of Ultimate Software’s commitment to service and to ensuring our customers’ continued success. In our more than 25 years as a “People First” company, we’ve created a culture of collaboration throughout Ultimate Software. It’s an […]

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In celebration of Customer Service Week, October 3–7, we share the following post highlighting the importance of collaboration—a cornerstone component of Ultimate Software’s commitment to service and to ensuring our customers’ continued success.

In our more than 25 years as a “People First” company, we’ve created a culture of collaboration throughout Ultimate Software. It’s an atmosphere that thrives on the sharing of ideas, knowledge, and experience among our employees—harnessed together through teamwork to spark innovation. Because we believe collaboration and innovation are key for continued success.

Likewise, we’ve established a collaborative environment for all of our customers: the UltiPro® User Communities. Part of our extensive Customer Success Portal, the UltiPro User Communities provide our customers with a virtual place to share best practices, to network, and to strengthen their knowledge of Ultimate’s products and services by learning from fellow UltiPro users, and from US.

UltiPro User CommunitiesThese communities offer the familiar feel and functionality we’ve all come to expect from social media, such as the ability to post fresh content (e.g., upload files, include hyperlinks), like and share others’ posts, and set up polls to learn users’ thoughts on specific topics.

Though Ultimate has provided this interactive space, the UltiPro User Communities are very much managed and sustained by our customers. There are dozens of diverse communities led by passionate UltiPro users, among more than 4,500 active community members, who contribute over 8,000 insightful posts annually. There are even community meetings held by and for members, so users can interact regularly and further discuss the latest UltiPro news and features.

“The User Communities are a valuable resource for idea sharing and practical advice from real-world users like myself, who work in UltiPro daily. More experienced users can offer insight to those new to UltiPro, while gaining even more expertise as we discuss our own creative solutions to day-to-day challenges and unique situations. I enjoy giving others the benefit of my experience and helping them learn the ropes, and will often stumble upon solutions to my own challenges in the process. No matter your experience level, there is always something new to learn in UltiPro, and the User Communities offer a collective wealth of  knowledge right at your fingertips!”—Teresa Hennessy, Pro Mach, Inc.

The UltiPro User Communities are another way we put our customers first, empower them, and—most importantly for effective collaboration—listen to them. Because it’s not just new ways for using UltiPro that’s being shared daily within the communities, it’s also great ideas for new UltiPro features. In fact, of the more than 360 UltiPro enhancements implemented in the past year, over 80 came from customer ideas.

And while our customers ultimately lead the communities, develop the content, and steer the conversations, our Subject Matter Experts remain close by and available to answer any special questions, and to contribute helpful and timely information.

“No matter what the question is, there is always someone there to answer it. A member will usually provide a solution or possibly come up with an alternative way of thinking about the problem. Not only are users involved in the User Communities, but Ultimate itself contributes by addressing questions unanswered or by being proactive, such as informing people of upcoming compliance issues. This partnership between all of the parties makes the User Communities an integral part of our HR solutions.”—Andrew Skolnick, March of Dimes

After all, Ultimate, UltiPro, and our User Communities were all built on collaboration. We all continue to thrive—together—because of it.

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A “People First” Approach to Customer Service http://blog.ultimatesoftware.com/people-first-approach-customer-service/ http://blog.ultimatesoftware.com/people-first-approach-customer-service/#respond Tue, 14 Jun 2016 17:26:54 +0000 http://blog.ultimatesoftware.com/?p=590 Most of us spend as much time with our co-workers as we do with our families. And just as family relationships influence our behavior, the values of our bosses make an enormous difference in our lives. My CEO, Ultimate’s Scott Scherr, was recently recognized by Glassdoor as one of the top CEOs in the country, […]

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Most of us spend as much time with our co-workers as we do with our families. And just as family relationships influence our behavior, the values of our bosses make an enormous difference in our lives. My CEO, Ultimate’s Scott Scherr, was recently recognized by Glassdoor as one of the top CEOs in the country, with Ultimate’s employees describing him as trusting, generous, and kind. This type of leadership defines a company’s culture, including the way an organization like Ultimate delivers its customer service.

scott-julie-1200x1200

When CEOs put their people first, employees put customers first. Read how customer satisfaction stems from the top at Ultimate Software.

The employee experience at Ultimate Software validates what researchers have learned about customer-obsessed cultures. A report this month from Forrester, titled the “Five Secrets of Customer-Obsessed Cultures,” found that companies with extraordinary customer service have leaders who teach employees about their personal values, and that these leaders live these values daily. “Teaching people to live the values takes regular reinforcement in different situations over a long period of time,” the report stated.

Employees everywhere know that when they feel part of a family at work, they bring more pride to their job and dedication to their company. When employees feel respected and appreciated, they try harder and give more in order to take care of their organization’s customers. At Ultimate, we believe that great leaders and cultures directly impact the service those businesses can provide, and when a business believes in its people, its extended family includes its customers.

Ultimate offers our customer family the most comprehensive set of services in the industry, at no extra charge, and a wide range of services that go beyond traditional support and activation.  We enter into a personal and proactive relationship with our customers, and believe in a lifelong commitment—the same way Ultimate treats its own employees.

In fact, Ultimate has a 97% customer retention rate and 95% customer satisfaction rate. These numbers are proof that our customers fully realize the advantages of working with a services and support organization whose culture values its employees. Ultimate’s role as a trusted business advisor also translates into industry recognition. This month, Ultimate was named a Gold Winner for “Best Customer Service Department of the Year” at Network Products Guide’s 11th Annual 2016 IT World Awards®, the world’s premier information technology awards recognizing achievements in every facet of the IT industry.

Customers, such as Texas Roadhouse, often speak about Ultimate’s exceptional service and their unique partnership with us. Patrick Sterling, director of people and risk administration at Texas Roadhouse, understands the impact of Ultimate’s “People First” approach:

“We have an excellent relationship with Ultimate Software, and it’s because the company treats us like strategic business partners. We love that our platform is backed by a customer service team that is truly exceptional in the HCM industry–everyone at Ultimate is uniformly responsive, knowledgeable, and conscientious.”

At Ultimate, our customers are our Partners for Life. And our guiding “People First” principles—mutual respect, honesty, and integrity—ensure that our employees are inspired and empowered to make good on this commitment.

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